Sunday, June 01, 2008

Forgiveness

Note... this post was written for another purpose, yet I thought I would post most of it here. For certain reasons I will delete portions and replace them with ...###... to indicate the edits.

Additionally... I just finished the editing and I see how much it chops this piece up. let me know if it too messy to leave here, or if there is still value in it, or if I have left too much behind and you can still read between the lines... or rather, between the
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A friend pointed out how much my previous post (“Wary”) dealt with forgiveness. I thought it more about suspicions, but in rereading it I see forgiveness his point.

If I am suspicious have I forgiven?

I think I have.

Being suspicious can be (might not be, but can be) a logical response to circumstances.
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Forgiving is different than trust

Forgiving is a gift one gives to another and to oneself.

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In continuing to blame
...###... feel a little betrayed once again. It feels ...###... unrepentant of...###... own mistakes...###...

But that isn’t the point.

What happens when one forgives? What happens when one doesn’t?

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It may be that in forgiving I make things harder
...###... It isn’t much of a gift if it is a burden.

...###... may feel greater remorse because I forgive...###... may feel greater embarrassment. ...###...may feel a debt. ...###...may feel pressure to give me what ...###... I want.

...###...

Whether or not that is true, I’ve been thinking, what does that mean? What does it mean to forgive someone who isn’t sorry, is unrepentant, doesn’t want forgiveness?

I thought forgiving someone was about making them feel better. I thought forgiveness is a a gift, a bit of grace, perhaps undeserved grace.

I don’t think it is.

I have asked
...###... to forgive me for my mistakes. ...###...

I’m sorry about that. I won’t repeat my mistakes. I can work to compensate for my errors. But that is all I can do. Time is assymetrical (in this dimension), running in the direction of entropy.

But
...###... pays a greater price. In not forgiving ...###... clings to her pain.

Perhaps it helps
...###... feel justified in her own mistakes, but it also keeps ...###... angry, unhappy.

My mistakes happened, they are in the past and I cannot undo them. But those same mistakes continue to hurt
...###..., or rather, ...###... continues to hurt herself with them.

And there is the epiphany. Forgiveness does more for the one forgiving than the one forgiven.

A lot of implications there. If in forgiving we heal ourselves a little, does living a life of forgiving others make one happier? Healthier?

Does continual forgiving make one a doormat? If we are seen as someone who will forgive anything, will others take advantage of us?

I forgive
...###...

When I think too much about that hurt, when the anger returns a little, I am stealing back some of that forgiveness. It doesn’t affect
...###..., it affects me. When I say a prayer, and give it up again, forgive all over again, the small relief I feel is the light touch of healing.

Forgiving does not make me a doormat.

First, forgiving is hard work. When I forgive I am wrestling with myself, conquering my emotions. Forgiving isn’t about letting someone walk over you. It is being strong enough to control your emotions. It is loving yourself enough to stop letting something continue to hurt you.

Additionally, forgiving does not mean becoming available, welcoming, further hurts.

...###... A future hurt is a part of accepting the risk I take in ...###.... It hasn’t anything to do with forgiving.

Forgiving is for me, it is letting something go so it doesn’t continue to hurt me.

And that brings me to the next epiphany.

Forgiving someone is not a matter of telling anyone about it.

Forgiveness lets us off the hook, not the other person. If we forgive and make a point of letting the other person know, especially if we make a grand gesture in forgiving, we are seeking control, seeking to elevate ourselves.

Telling the person we forgive them should happen only if it helps the other person, if the other person is seeking that forgiveness, needs to know they are forgiven.

When Jesus was on the cross he said “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus wasn’t forgiving us. He had already forgiven us. He had endured much already, and He had been able to extricate Himself had He wanted. He had accepted it all, forgiven us all, when he received that deiscple’s kiss.

On the cross He was pleading our case. He was asking the Lord God to share His gift of forgiveness, extending His forgiveness into the trinity.

I’m not sure what to make of the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says: “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

It implies we are only going to be forgiven as much as we are able to forgive.

Obviously not the case.

Jesus has taken on the sins of the world, sins of each of us, my sins. I can never match His grace. Therefore that line isn’t a description of how our salvation works.

Perhaps that line from the prayer is a reminder of that point. We are not able to forgive that much, that consistently, that freely. Perhaps it is there to remind us that we have been given grace beyond price and the least we can do is give a little out now and then.

If I could learn to live a life filled with forgiveness, not nescessarily opening myself, allowing others, to hurt me, but forgiving them so I can let the past go. i know I would be happier, healthier.

So what is forgiving for?

Forgiving is for giving us, for giving ourselves, freedom. Freedom from the hurts others have given us.

Forgiving is for healing.

4 comments:

Fred said...

Well done. I work with some people that have no concept whatsoever of forgivenesses. Interestingly enough, they are not very grounded in any religion, either.

Amrita said...

Hi CS you taught me a great lesson on forgiveness from your writing and life.

Marvin the Martian said...

I think it's more fun to nurse the hurt, to water it with tears, to help it grow into a mighty towering oak of rage. ;-) Just kidding.

Forgiveness, to me, is learning from the mistake, yet forgetting about the person or incident that made you hurt. Kind of like remembering to dress warmly and to wear proper boots, but forgetting that it's because you got frostbite once. Implement your lessons learned, but don't dwell on HOW you learned the lesson, because otherwise that oak tree of rage will fall on your house someday. ;-)

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